Remarks by Ambassador Jeff DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, at the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) 2012 Substantive Session

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 22, 2012




AS DELIVERED

Madam Chair,

I am privileged to speak on behalf of the United States at the launching of this year’s annual substantive session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. We look forward to a productive session this year. We welcome the Secretariat's continuing progress on the New Horizon reforms, including the Global Field Support Strategy. We look forward to further advancing this progress and making peacekeeping more effective. We would like to thank the Secretariat for the extensive briefings that helped Members of the Committee prepare for these discussions. We also thank Morocco and Canada for their efforts regarding Working Methods reform.

Madam Chair,

The United States is an ardent supporter of efforts to bolster the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping. We acknowledge, however, the substantial challenges involved in closing the gap between our ambitions and the conduct of missions in the field. We must be realistic about the difficult endeavors of matching mandates and capacities, implementing necessary reforms and advocating for effectiveness. Nevertheless, we would like to recognize the substantial steps taken over the past year to develop operational tools for peacekeepers to carry out their mandates and the strides being made in streamlining services and support to the field.

Distinguished delegates,

The dedication and sacrifice of the many UN peacekeepers, particularly the 113 who died in the line of duty over the past year, continue to make an important difference in the lives of people around the world. This year in Timor Leste, peacekeepers will support nationwide elections and will train the Timorese National Police in preparation for the mission’s withdrawal. In Abyei and South Sudan, missions are helping to maintain stability in a volatile security environment and to prevent situations that threaten civilians. In Liberia, the UN helped provide security for the largely peaceful 2011 elections, which the Liberian government effectively oversaw. In Haiti, the mission continues to help the Haitian people and the government recover from the setbacks of the 2010 earthquake and to strengthen the Haitian National Police so it can assume responsibility for the nation’s security. The other UN PKOs are also making significant contributions to peace and security in their respective host countries.

Nevertheless, as we all recognize, we continue to face challenges in providing missions with the right resources – both material and human – as quickly as they are needed. The gap in aviation mobility, notably in contract civilian and military utility helicopters, remains a major challenge in getting peacekeepers to where they need to be to carry out their mandates. I welcome Under-Secretary-General Malcorra's comments yesterday about the Secretariat's approach to seeking creative solutions to the challenges of aviation capacity. In terms of human resources, we welcome the Secretary-General’s establishment of the Senior Advisory Group on Troop Reimbursement Rates and Related Issues. Creating this eminent group of experts representing all peacekeeping partners is recognition of the continuing evolution of peacekeeping and the need to meet emerging challenges. We would also like to recognize the contribution of the Justice and Corrections Capacity, a specialized unit which deployed from Italy to South Sudan to help establish essential rule of law programs from the beginning of the mission. Their dedicated work exemplifies what we have been saying for the past few years about laying the groundwork for sustainable peace from the onset of a mission.

Also with regard to human resources, we note the persistence of serious misconduct, in particular sexual misconduct, by a small number of peacekeepers. This behavior impugns the reputation of the vast majority of UN peacekeepers and other personnel who work tirelessly under difficult and dangerous conditions. I was pleased to note the eloquent remarks on this point by you, Madame Chair, in your presentation yesterday. This Committee must deal seriously with this issue and consider how best to strengthen our collective ability to prevent such abuses and respond effectively when they do occur.

The United States is particularly proud to fund a number of workshops and projects to develop training and guidance related to protection of civilians, police curricula, and standards of learning. This work is being done in conjunction with troop and police contributors, missions in the field, and with peacekeeping centers around the world, to get as wide and as informed input as possible. In addition, the United States continues its commitment to direct training and support for deployments. For example, we have directly trained over 120,000 peacekeeping troops since 2005, and have supported the training of 35,000 more through partner countries. We have facilitated the deployment of more than 109,000 peacekeepers from 30 countries to 19 peacekeeping operations around the world. We have sustained our commitment to meet our obligations under the UN peacekeeping assessed budget, annually about $2 billion. We have made a substantial commitment - $23 million over the last two U.S. fiscal years – to help enhance the operational capacity of police peacekeepers and to contribute to the development of UN doctrine, policy, and training on international policing.

As we look at the year ahead, and the challenges that face us all over the next few years, we are conscious of the continuing challenge of getting qualified civilian experts hired and deployed, both to implement the many tasks in the mandates of peacekeeping missions, and to help transfer skills and to build the intellectual infrastructure that will help speed transitions to sustainable peace. Developing and attracting effective and expert mission leadership is a critical component in success.

Madame Chair,

We strongly believe that our UN peacekeepers, whether male or female, soldier, police, or civilian, are unified in their dedication to safeguard the peace, protect civilians, consolidate the rule of law and lay the foundation for more stable and democratic societies to flourish. They rightfully derive considerable pride in their service to the UN and to the countries they are shielding from the scourge of war. We also strongly believe all the countries assembled together here in New York are unified by the imperative of working together to facilitate the UN in making missions as effective as possible and in supporting those missions throughout their deployment. We have a great deal of work to do in the coming weeks, yet I am hopeful that our deliberations will further our collective goals.

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PRN: 2012/034